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will support a greater burden than fresh; and we see an egg will descend in fresh water, which will swim in brine. But that iron should float therein, from this cause, is hardly granted; for heavy bodies will only swim in that liquor, wherein the weight of their bulk exceedeth not the weight of so much water as it occupieth or taketh up. But surely no water is heavy enough to answer the ponderosity of iron, and therefore that metal will sink in any kind thereof, and it was a perfect miracle which was wrought this way by Elisha. Thus we perceive that bodies do swim or sink in different liquors, according unto the tenuity or gravity of those liquors which are to support them. So salt water beareth that weight which will sink in vinegar; vinegar that which will fall in fresh water; fresh water that which will sink in spirits of wine; and that will swim in spirits of wine which will sink in clear oil; as we made experiment in globes of wax pierced with light sticks to support them. So that although it be conceived a hard matter to sink in oil, I believe a man should find it very difficult, and next to flying to swim therein. And thus will gold sink in quicksilver, wherein iron and other metals swim; for the bulk of gold is only heavier than that space of quicksilver which it containeth; and thus also in a solution of one ounce of quicksilver in two of aqaa fortis, the liquor will bear amber, horn, and the softer kinds of stones, as we have made trial in each.
But a private opinion there is which crosseth the common conceit, maintained by some of late, and alleged of old by Strabo, that the floating of bodies in this lake proceeds not from the thickness of water, but a bituminous ebullition from the bottom, whereby it wafts up bodies injected, and suffereth them not easily to sink. The verity thereof would be enquired by ocular exploration, for this way is also probable. So we observe, it is hard to wade deep in baths where springs arise; and thus sometime are balls made to play upon a spouting stream.3
And therefore, until judicious and ocular experiment confirm or distinguish the assertion, that bodies do not sink
3 spouting stream.] This confirmeth what I noted before, for, as in the hot bathe, so here, the bituminous ebullition is but in some places stronge, and in some places of the lake not at all.— Wr.
herein at all, we do not yet believe; that they do, not easily, or with more difficulty, descend in this than other water, we shall readily assent.4 But to conclude an impossibility from a difficulty, or affirm whereas things not easily sink, they do not drown at all; beside the fallacy, is a frequent addition in human expression, and an amplification not unusual as well in opinions as relations; which oftentimes give indistinct accounts of proximities, and without restraint transcend from one another. Thus, forasmuch as the torrid zone was conceived exceeding hot, and of difficult habitation, the opinions of men so advanced its constitution, as to conceive the same unhabitable, and beyond possibility for man to live therein. Thus, because there are no wolves in England, nor have been observed for divers generations, common people have proceeded into opinions, and some wise men into affirmations, they will not live therein, although brought from other countries. Thus most men affirm, and few here will believe the contrary, that there be no spiders in Ireland; but we have beheld some in that country; and though but few, some cobwebs we behold in Irish wood in England. Thus the crocodile from an egg growing up to an exceeding magnitude, common conceit, and divers writers deliver, it hath no period of increase, but groweth as long as it liveth. And thus in brief, in most apprehensions the conceits of men extend the
4 readily assent.] And hee should adde, in some places itt beares, in others not.-Wr.
5 groweth, &c.] This may bee true inoughe in regard of the vast bignes which is reported of some of them; and what should hinder ? For in men and creatures also kept for food, their bulke growes still greater, though not their stature.—Wr.
It is probably true, of the whole order to which the crocodile belongs (the saurians), that they have "no period of increase they have no metamorphosis, like many other animals (and some in the same class), to place a limit, by its completion, to the further growth of the individual. Nor do they, like the vertebrate animals, arrive early at a maximum of growth, which is not afterwards increased, except corpulency. Congeniality of climate makes a striking difference in magnitude, at the same age, between saurians of different countries (for example, the crocodile of the Nile is larger than any other of its species), but in all, growth, though very slow, is probably continued through life; unless, indeed, extreme old age may begin the end, by ending the vital power of growth, which seems probable, but would not impugn our author's position.
considerations of things, and dilate their notions beyond the propriety of their natures.
In the maps of the Dead Sea or Lake of Sodom, we meet with the destroyed cities, and in divers the city of Sodom placed about the middle, or far from the shore of it; but that it could not be far from Segor, which was seated under the mountains, near the side of the lake, seems inferrible from the sudden arrival of Lot, who coming from Sodom at daybreak, attained Segor at sun-rising; and therefore Sodom ought to be placed not many miles from it, and not in the middle of the lake, which is accounted about eighteen miles over; and so will leave about nine miles to be passed in too small a space of time.
Of Divers other Relations, viz. :-Of the Woman that Conceived in a Bath;-Of Crassus that never Laughed but once;-That our Saviour never Laughed-Of Sergius the Second, or Bocca di Porco;-That Tamerlane was a Scythian Shepherd.
THE relation of Averroes, and now common in every mouth, of the woman that conceived in a bath, by attracting the sperm or seminal effluxion of a man admitted to bathe in some vicinity unto her, I have scarce faith to believe; and had I been of the jury, should have hardly thought I had found the father in the person that stood by her. 'Tis a new and unseconded way in history to fornicate at a distance, and much offendeth the rules of physick, which say, there is no generation without a joint emission, nor only a virtual, but corporal and carnal contaction. And although Aristotle and his adherents do cut off the one, who conceive no effectual ejaculation in women; yet in defence of the other they cannot be introduced. For if, as he believeth, the inordinate longitude of the organ, though in its proper recipient, may
by attracting, &c.] No absurdity, which Browne undertakes to refute though so gross as not to merit notice, appears too monstrous to find acceptance with Ross. He finds it "quite possible, even as the stomach attracteth meat and drink, though in some distance from it." The conceit respecting Lot is not suggested by the scriptural account, which only asserts that he did not recognise his daughters.
be a mean to inprolificate the seed; surely the distance of place, with the commixture of an aqueous body must prove an effectual impediment, and utterly prevent the success of a conception. And therefore that conceit concerning the daughters of Lot, that they were impregnated by their sleeping father, or conceived by seminal pollution received at distance from him, will hardly be admitted. And therefore what is related of devils, and the contrived delusions of spirits, that they steal the seminal emissions of men, and transmit them into their votaries in coition, is much to be suspected; and altogether to be denied, that there ensue conceptions thereupon; however husbanded by art, and the wisest menagery of that most subtile impostor. And therefore also that our magnified Merlin was thus begotten by the devil, is a groundless conception; and as vain to think from thence to give the reason of his prophetical spirit. For if a generation could succeed, yet should not the issue inherit the faculties of the devil, who is but an auxiliary, and no univocal actor; nor will his nature substantially concur to such productions.
And although it seems not impossible, that impregnation may succeed from seminal spirits, and vaporous irradiations, containing the active principle, without material and gross immissions; as it happeneth sometimes in imperforated persons, and rare conceptions of some much under puberty or fourteen. As may be also conjectured in the coition of some insects, wherein the female makes intrusion into the male; and from the continued ovation in hens, from one single tread of a cock, and little stock laid up near the vent, sufficient for durable prolification. And although also in human generation the gross and corpulent seminal body may return again, ́and the great business be acted by what it carrieth with it; yet will not the same suffice to support the story in question, wherein no corpulent immission is acknowledged; answerable unto the fable of Talmudists, in the story of Benzira, begotten in the same manner on the daughter of the prophet Jeremiah.7
2. The relation of Lucillius, and now become common concerning Crassus, the grandfather of Marcus the wealthy
7 And although, &c.] This paragraph first added in 3rd edition.
Roman, that he never laughed but once in all his life, and that was at an ass eating thistles, is something strange. For, if an indifferent and unridiculous object could draw his habitual austereness unto a smile, it will be hard to believe he could with perpetuity resist the proper motives thereof. For the act of laughter, which is evidenced by a sweet contraction of the muscles of the face, and a pleasant agitation of the vocal organs, is not merely voluntary, or totally within the jurisdiction of ourselves, but, as it may be constrained by corporal contaction in any, and hath been enforced in some even in their death, so the new, unusual, or unexpected, jucundities which present themselves to any man in his life, at some time or other, will have activity enough to excitate the earthiest soul, and raise a smile from most composed tempers. Certainly the times were dull when these things happened, and the wits of those ages short of these of ours; when men could maintain such immutable faces, as to remain like statues under the flatteries of wit, and persist unalterable at all efforts of jocularity. The spirits in hell, and Pluto himself, whom Lucian makes to laugh at passages upon earth, will plainly condemn these Saturnines, and make ridiculous the magnified Heraclitus, who wept preposterously, and made a hell on earth; for rejecting the consolations of life, he passed his days in tears, and the uncomfortable attendments of hell.8
3. The same conceit9 there passeth concerning our blessed Saviour, and is sometime urged as a high example of gravity. And this is opinioned, because in Holy Scripture it is recorded he sometimes wept, but never that he laughed. Which, howsoever granted, it will be hard to conceive how he passed his younger years and childhood without a smile, if as divinity affirmeth, for the assurance of his humanity
8 the uncomfortable, &c.] Ross remarks with much reason on this observation, that "oftentimes there is hell in laughing, and a heaven in weeping :” and that "good men find not the uncomfortable attendments of hell in weeping, but rather the comfortable enjoyments of heaven."-Arcana, p. 176.
9 The same conceit, &c.] Tis noe argument to say tis never read in Scripture that Christ laughed, therefore he did never laughe, but on the other side to affirme, that hee did laughe is therefore dangerous bycause unwarrantable and groundles.-Wr.